Ulrich Luz on Matthew as Gospel

Matthean scholar Ulrich Luz argues that the Gospels, particularly Matthew[1], should not necessarily be understood as βίος but a whole new genre, “Gospel.” Just as earlier Jewish writers picked up the foundation story and reworked it in there writings, likewise Matthew picked up Mark’s story and reworked it, forming a new foundation story. He says,

Between the biblical-Jewish literature and the Gospels, including the Gospel of the Jewish follower of Jesus, Matthew, the foundation story changes. With his story of Jesus Matthew tells a new foundation story that permits him to understand Israel’s previous foundational text, the Bible, in a completely new light. In my (Luz) judgment, here in the framework of the biblical-Jewish tradition and literary activity something completely new, a revolution, happened.

The ancient church recognized this revolution when it put the title “Gospel” at the head of Matthew’s Jesus story and thus created a new genre designation. In so doign it not only expressed a theological judgment; it also did justice to Matthew’s intention.

Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1–7. Translated by James E. Crouch. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.

  1. At the time of writing, the genre βίοςm was not particularly well known but later readers might have understood Matthew to be some form of βίος.  ↩

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